Tripods for food photography

*Article written for Manfrotto

It’s often said that the most important tools for a photographer are a creative mind and a trained eye. Light, composition and the subject matter all determine how powerful and impactful your image is going to be. Photographic equipment is just the means to help us achieve our vision, right??? Well, we all know it’s not that simple and having the right equipment can take your work to a completely different level.

If I were to give just one piece of advice to someone who is starting their food photography journey, it would be to use a tripod that has the right features for the type of photography you’re doing. I used to think of the tripod as a relatively boring piece of gear, but I was surprised by how much things have changed in the tripod market. Impressive combinations of light weight, flexibility (in terms of use case) and rigidity have been made possible through the use of new materials and technologies. Above all, a great tripod needs to have the stability to prevent any camera shake and to safely support the weight of the camera and lens (especially my heavy macro lens which I use a lot in food photography).

I recently had a chance to test several of Manfrotto latest products to see how useful they can be in food photography and this is what I discovered. When I first tried the new Manfrotto 055 carbon fibre 4-section tripod, I instantly knew it was a keeper. Not only is it stronger and more stable than its aluminium counterparts, but it’s also lighter, making it easier to transport within the studio and in the field. It’s extremely rigid, with Quick Power Lock levers for the leg sections, which operate with speedy simplicity. The levers are designed to provide for comfortable single-handed opening of all leg sections and offer powerful locking of every leg section.

The standout feature of this tripod is the centre column which has the ability to rotate 90 degrees and is great for shooting flat lays, an integral part of food photography, as well as macro and close-up shooting. It makes it very easy to switch to overhead orientation whenever you need it.

The legs of the Manfrotto 055 tripod are made of four sections which means that when it’s collapsed, it can actually fit inside carry-on luggage or bag. I cannot emphasise how important it is for when you have to take it out and about. The tripod is light but at the same time it feels incredibly sturdy and strong. This picture below was taken on a sunny but very windy day. Despite the weather and the fact that the tripod was on a hill, it remained rock steady, with no signs of camera shake.

When it comes to the tripod’s head, I’ve been impressed with the surprisingly light XPRO Geared Three-way pan/tilt tripod head (MHXPRO3WG) which is a beautifully compact, precise and reliable 3-way head.  The combination of levers and micrometric knobs allows you to adjust your camera’s position quickly, and with very high precision. The whole thing is a piece of art, if you ask me – it looks good and is a pleasure to use.

Another tripod that I know I’ll be using regularly is the very novel JOBY GorillaPod® 3K PRO Kit. If you’re looking for flexibility, this tripod will give it to you. Literally. Its legs are basically a series of interconnected ball joints, allowing them to move in virtually any direction. The tripod can grip practically anything it can wrap its legs around – a bit like an octopus! It’s an ingenious design, which is also compact and light-weight. I was impressed that it could support the combined weight of my camera and macro lens. No easy feat!

The GorillaPod is perfect when I’m photographing fungi on the forest floor, for example. There usually isn’t much available light in the woods, so slower shutter speeds are needed. A small, versatile tripod like the GorillaPod is the perfect solution.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: